A New Twist on an Old Tradition

This is Snowflake our “Mini Magic Reindeer”. He joined our family around 5 years ago as part of a gift from the daycare I was working at, he is similar to the Elf on a Shelf, he comes to stay with us for the Christmas season moving each night to a different

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adventure. The only difference for us is that Snowflake is just for fun, I never told the kids that he would report to Santa about their behavior or anything like that. This year will be a little different, Snowflake is on a very special assignment. Hopefully this new spin will help my kiddos get into he true spirit of Christmas and be more generous and caring at a time when the world around them is so materialistic. Come back tomorrow to find out what  Snowflake’s mission is for 2015!!

10 Ways to tell it was a good mommy day…

  1. There were less than a dozen bath toys in the tub while I took a shower.
  2. The playroom has more toys on the shelf than the floor.
  3. My 3 oldest are watching a movie together and the noise level is only at dull roar.
  4. The only kids in my bed have four legs and tails.
  5. The worse thing that hit me in the head today was a domino.
  6. I got to drink half of my bottle of lemonade before my toddler stole it.
  7. “Moooooomm …” Was only bellowed 372 times today.
  8. My son saved me a frosted flake shaped like a heart and I actually was allowed to eat it. (after taking a picture of it and posting it on FB) 
  9. It dawned on me today that there is less than a month left of school.
  10. All four kiddos are done their chores, homework, showers before midnight and I did not have threaten to ground anyone. 

What I wish I could tell the world…

What I wish I could tell the world… 

    

    As I sit in my back yard reflecting on our first camping trip, my youngest son plays peacefully on the playscape and in the sand. Gone are the screams and tantrums of earlier in the weekend. 

     Here he knows his boundaries, here he understands the rules, here it is calm and consistent. He is free. After a lap or two around the yard he will crawl into my arms for a cuddle, or bring a ball over to play. 

     If he gets too rough and I ask him to stop, he fusses but easily redirects. He is not the same boy who threw himself down over and over all day. 

     This peacefulness is hard fought for. It came from consistency, reviewing the same things over and over. Praising appropriate behavior, redirecting the negative. When he melted  down we actively ignore, it as long as he is safe. My hubby and I continually set up the spaces in our house and yard to minimize “no” so that when we need say it the word still means something. 

          At home we know his cues, when it all is too much. Frequent breaks in play to nap, eat, or just be held. That most of the time his acting up is explorative, trying to see what will happen if he does one thing or another. Redirection sends him to a better activity. Speech is encouraged but not forced. “Time away” is reserved for hurtful behavior, and handled in a different way than “time out”.

         When we are out in the world, or when we have company, it is still a work in progress. The world is unprectitable. There is lots of noise, sights and he is so easily overstimulated. Our little man often loses it, screaming or throwing himself down. The people around us comment, or shake their heads. They see a boy the size of a four year old, hitting me or banging his head on the ground. He appears spoiled or bratty. That kid just needs better disipline.

      In public there are more people telling him what to do and lots of new rules. He gets overwhelmed because there are too many choices.  Hubby and I find ourselves handling things differently with an audience, even though we know it won’t be effective rather than being judged.   Then everyone is stressed and frustrated. 

     The part the outside world doesn’t know is that 2 meltdowns in an hour is a major achievement, it used to be 10. That he may look big but he is really only 2, and functioning much younger than that, more like a 10 month old sometimes.  That he is making so much progress every day. 

     This giant boy was a premie, born to a birth mother with both mental health issues, and substance abuse problems. Prenatally exposed to medications that should not be used while pregnant. 

     He lived with this person for the first 10 months of his life with her not knowing when he would be held or put down. Changed or left to sit in a mess. Covered it an itchy rash that was just ignored. Back and forth between not fed, over fed, and even force fed till he vomited. No predictability for a baby to depend on. Then shuffled between foster homes (at least 3 before us).

     He has been with us for over a year but with regular weekly visits with the family who created the chaos. As foster parents our hands were tied by DCF, little to no choices about visits, doctors, daycares, interventions. Finally we are getting him the outside help he needs. Evaluations for his behavior, speech, sensory issues. 

     He gets therapy twice a week to help him learn boundaries. To teach him to use words to communicate his wants and needs. To listen to what is said to him before reacting to a situation. Showing us the best ways to deal with his individual needs. 

     We are trying to raise all our kids to be the best people they can be. Our 3 oldest all had a rough start. But with understanding and time they learned how to make good choices. They are not perfect but nice kids who are lots of fun to be around.  

    Please remember a child might not be as old as they look. They not crying because they are a brat or acting out to be disagreeable. Parents are not spoiling a child by not making them talk before he is ready. Their way might be different but so is each child. “Equal does not mean the same, it means everyone getting what they need.”

Update time

I know I have been neglecting this page but a lot has happened while I have been away, rather than try to catch it all up I think I will just give the top 5 highlights.

1. Our little visitor may just be on his way to being a forever Pennington. His goal was changed to adoption and we wrote the court to tell them we would like to adopt him. Going to be a long road but it will be worth it.

2. We are a hotline family and in the 2 months we have been on the list we have cared for over a dozen different children. It has been quite a learning experience and has helped us function better as a family.

3. I finally may have some answers about my health, autoimmune hypothyroidism. Starting some new meds and looking forward to feeling better.

4. We took our first real family vacation. We had an amazing time visiting Florida and on a cruise to Mexico.

5. Hubby and I are making some major changes in our communication and parenting choices. Hoping to become better parents and closer to eachother.

Please continue to follow my page as I get back to basics and invite my fellow Facebook moms, (and dads) to join me on the latest “Adventure at Pennington Place”!!

It takes all kinds!

Why is the world so stuck on every family having 2.5 naturally conceived kids? Families come in all shapes and sizes!!! How they are built or who is part of them is what makes then special and unique.
And to the people who feel the need to look at my amazing crew and ask are they “really” mine… YES… They are REALLY MINE… Maybe I did not give birth to them but they are just as much my children as a biological child would be… We went through hell and back to be able to adopt and foster, we had strangers pouring through our personal lives, visiting our house, looking in our fridge, cabinets, and bedrooms and we filled out a mountain of paperwork that would make a mortgage broker cringe!!!
So random person in the supermarket or on the playground how the children came into our lives is our story, and now that my children are older it up to them to share it if they wish. Whether they are with me for a short while or forever!! To me they are just my kids!!!

A new year…

Now that the holidays are over our day to day routines are returning to normal. My hubby is back to work full time but with a very different schedule. The kids and I are on our own most nights for dinner and with more time for chatting I have been getting much more inside information into the kids days. I can see how much school stresses are impacting their lives.
Most days my son comes home a bundle of raw nerves. Almost anything sets him to crying or lashing out. When I ask him he says he doesn’t know why but he tells stories that lead me to believe that his teacher is pretty hard on my creative little chatterbox.
My middle child has been testing boundaries and trying out her “tween” attitude. She is still coming to terms with the differences between family life and being raised by doting grandparents. Chores and rules pose big challenges and some days are harder than others.
My oldest is in seventh grade and learning it isn’t easy to manage her own school work. She has not done as well in some of her classes as she wanted to. I am proud to say that instead of laying blame she is meeting with teachers and staying after for help.
In response to their struggles I have been trying to make our weekends much more about both relaxing and having fun as a family. We are cutting back on tech and doing more crafts, playing games and especially getting outside as much as weather in New England permits.
Our little visitor had settled in nicely. He is such a happy baby and all the kids love him as do my hubby and I. It is getting harder and harder to remember what life was like before he came. The inherit problem with this is that it is really going to hurt when it is time for him to move on. We met with his social worker and he will be here at least another month or two. So we will enjoy him while we can.
This new year is going to be filled with many great adventures, keep checking in for updates !!!

Little visitor for Christmas

When I said I was ready for our next adventure I guess I really meant it. It is less than a week till Christmas and our first foster placement just arrived. I special visitor is an 11 month old baby boy. He should be with us a month or two. The kids are excited and so far enjoying having fun entertaining him.
Christmas is going to be a quieter event this year. My hubby just returned from our trip and our shopping is not done, and our house is not quite as decorated as usual. We decided last year to stay home for most of Christmas Day. We are going to cook dinner and just let the kids play with their toys.
The focus for this years holiday celebration is going to be togetherness. Turning in and nourishing our souls rather than stressing over the material is that has hijacked Christmas . How are you going to keep your family close this Christmas ?